Dating your kids: Finding time to treasure the individual in large family life

To say our home was chaotic over the Thanksgiving holiday is an understatement. Our tally looked like this:



With loving intentions, I was still overwhelmed by the chaos of rearranged furniture, homeless toys masked as meaningless clutter, and children. Children everywhere. There were many highlights to our week at home together for the first time, and arguably many more challenges. Fortunately, we did at least one thing right-- we foresaw an opportunity neither of us had had in a while.

When you single parent it is very rare that you get one-on-one time with any of your children. Group-think is how you roll. On occasion, you might turn a drive to the pediatrician's during school hours into a momentary bonding experience, but let's face it, the moments are rare and fleeting. Move-in week for our family meant many things were changing, including our ability to give personal attention to each child. We met with the clan, and gave them this holiday gift: each of you gets to have a date with one of us-- you get to choose the parent, and you get to choose the activity.

We gifted them the most precious thing of all: our time. It may come as no surprise that all of the boys chose Babak for their companion, and each had their turn to be special for about an hour; returning home centered and connected-- ready to rejoin the family with their soul-cup full.

A new calming meditation for Caroline-- knitting.  A passion born in a one-on-one escape from routine to nurture her creativity.

A new calming meditation for Caroline-- knitting.  A passion born in a one-on-one escape from routine to nurture her creativity.

On the final day of break, it was Caroline's turn. I got to be her companion, and it was remarkable how very special I felt. She wanted to go have a snack and learn to knit. We talked about things that never come up when the boys are around, though not anything remarkably private: friends and sports and big dreams. She was fully at home with herself and with me-- she knew I had only one priority for the time being-- and it was her. We laughed, we knitted, we told stories, and we built a new little bridge between a mother and her often-tweeny, frequently moody daughter.

Every now and again, it's good to stop and find the sacred in each of the people we are blessed to call family. Date night shouldn't just be for parents and partners. We all need to feel special. Treasured. Like we are the only thing that matters in the world to another human, if only for an hour.

This holiday season find space to give what we all yearn for: time with the ones you hold dear. We will be doing more of these dates. They nurture us all, and will help ensure we keep these wee ones close even as they grow through their teenage years.

Let me know your favorite kid date ideas-- we'd love to keep ours fresh!  If you don't have kids, who will you make your special date this holiday season?  A friend?  A co-worker in need of a coffee with someone who cares?  Take the time to do it, and let us all know your great ideas!